Updated Nov 26, 2023 - World

4-year-old American Abigail Edan among hostages Hamas released

A Red Cross vehicle, as part of a convoy believed to be carrying hostages abducted by Hamas, on Nov. 24.

A Red Cross vehicle, as part of a convoy believed to be carrying hostages abducted by Hamas, on Nov. 24.Photo: Mohammed Talatene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hamas released more than a dozen hostages on Sunday, including at least one American — 4-year-old Abigail Edan — as part of the deal between Israel and the militant group.

The big picture: The Biden administration at the highest levels was involved in the Qatar-mediated talks that led to the deal. The agreement also includes a four-day pause in the fighting in Gaza and the release of dozens of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Hamas on Sunday — the third day of the pause in fighting — released 17 hostages, including 14 Israelis and three Thai nationals.

  • Hamas freed a total of 26 Israeli women and children over the first two days of the pause in fighting, while Israel released 78 Palestinian women and children from Israeli prisons. Hamas has also freed more than a dozen Thai nationals and one Filipino as part of a separate agreement with the Thai government.
  • Hamas is expected to release a total of 50 women and children over the four-day pause. About 150 Palestinian prisoners — mainly women and children — will be released in return.

What they're saying: "Thank God she's home," Biden told reporters in Nantucket on Sunday, referring to dual national Abigail Edan. "I wish I was there to hold her."

  • "We will not stop working until every hostage returns to his loved ones," Biden said. The president added he will continue to be personally engaged to see this deal is fully implemented and possibly extended.
  • "My goal is to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so we can see more hostages come out and get more humanitarian relief in," he added. "I hope this is not the end. I would like to see this pause continuing as long as we can get more hostages out."

Abigail's great aunt and cousin in a statement Sunday thanked Biden, the Qatari government and others involved in securing the release of the 4-year-old, whose parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attack.

  • "We hoped and prayed today would come," they said.
  • "Today's release proves that it's possible. We can get all hostages back home," they added. "We have to keep pushing. We will continue to stand with the families of all the hostages still held captive, and we remain committed as ever to securing their safe and swift return."
  • President Biden spoke to Abigail's family after her release. He also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

A senior Biden administration official who briefed reporters said the U.S. was unable to confirm the whereabouts or status of many of the 10 Americans unaccounted for before Sunday's release.

  • For Abigail, the Biden administration had a general understanding that she was being held in the northern part of Gaza, the official said.

Israeli and U.S. officials have said the deal between Israel and Hamas is structured to incentivize Hamas to release more than 50 Israeli hostages.

  • Per the deal, Israel has agreed to extend the pause by a day for every 10 additional hostages released.
  • Israel is also allowing more aid trucks, including for northern Gaza, to the enclave during the pause.
  • White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News on Sunday he hopes the pause will be extended but the "ball is in Hamas' court."

Editor's note: This story and headline have been corrected to reflect that at least one American is among the hostages released. The situation is still developing. Please check back for updates.

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